Tumblr loses 84M users after porn purge

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Tumblr's porn purge results in 84M users leaving

Last December, Tumblr executives made the fateful decision to ban adult content from the microblogging and social networking platform. To an extent, the company’s decision was understandable. Apple removed the firm’s mobile app from its store because of child pornography concerns. However, a new report confirms the company’s content sanitization drive had major negative consequences. Tumblr lost nearly 100 million active monthly users following its ban on pornography.

The Verizon subsidiary initiated its purging of visual depictions of sex on Dec. 17, 2018. At that point, analytics firm SimilarWeb reports the company had 521 million regular visitors. The following month, the site’s monthly views plunged to 437 million.

Despite that disastrous outcome, another social media company seems primed to follow in Tumblr’s footsteps.

The Dangers of Not Understanding Your Appeal

There are a few different lessons the social media sector should take from Tumblr’s fall from grace. The most prominent of which is that brands really need to understand their appeal to their core audience. Tumblr’s mission statement is to connect people with others who share their interests. As it turns out, one-fifth of Tumblr’s audience was erotica aficionados who were interested in connecting with boutique pornographers.

Indeed, a 2017 study found that though only .1 percent of the network’s users created adult content, 22 percent of its visitors were there for porn. Accordingly, once the smut was gone, so were a whole lot of regular users.

Ironically, Tumblr’s obscene material crackdown was initiated because its parent company wanted to preserve its broad appeal. Following Yahoo’s acquisition by Verizon in 2017, Tumblr officials had a meeting with their new bosses. There, the platform’s employees learned their new roadmap involved converting its large social justice and fandom communities into media consumers.

Verizon saw Tumblr’s porn reservoirs as a major obstacle to its advertising ambitions. In fact, the telecom giant wanted the adult content gone before the network was identified as a hub for pedophiles.

Whatever issues Verizon might’ve had selling pre-ban Tumblr as an ad platform, chasing away 20 percent of its audience is a bigger problem.

When Social Media Companies Don’t Learn From History

Because of the sheer obliviousness of the move, Tumblr’s adult content ban was one of the biggest tech stories of last year. Nevertheless, it appears that Twitter is readying to follow in its contemporary’s footsteps.

It was recently reported that the social networking platform is in the process of testing a number of radical updates. Apparently, the company’s leadership wants to remove public like and retweet displays and change the way its reply threads work. Moreover, the news and networking site’s prototype app is called “twttr.”

Just as Tumblr accidentally sparked an exodus by trying to make itself more advertiser-friendly, Twitter is going to kill its popularity by trying to become less toxic.

Judging by the changes being tested, it looks like Twitter is trying to decrease engagement while fostering meaningful interactions. That is to say, the platform wants its users to have conversations instead of just liking and retweeting each other’s content. But just as Tumblr misunderstood its function as a porn delivery system, Twitter doesn’t understand its appeal as an ego-boosting service.

A recent study found that a sizable portion of Twitter’s users doesn’t log on for the camaraderie. They like the application because it gives them a chance to people watch and get attention from strangers. Moreover, some of the site’s users really enjoy having a place where they can be contemptuous of their inferiors. The site’s popularity among narcissists is hardly surprising. Nearly 77 percent of its core audience is in their teens or twenties.

If Twitter’s next round of revisions makes it less appealing to one of its core demographics, it might experience a Tumblr-style mass departure of users.

The unsavory truth is, when it comes to social media, it pays to cater to the darker aspects of humanity.